There was an interesting question posed in the Dear Readers post about primal contraceptives. I found it very hard to follow what was being said about it, so I thought I would start this forum thread. Here's the original question:
'Tell me what you know about “primal contraception”. What if Grok had a primal marriage but wasn’t ready for those little Grokaroos just yet? What do you think he would do? My wife has trouble with conventional contraception. She experiences mood difficulties, very low libido and often erratic periods. We’re trying to find a more “natural” way to have enjoyable sex and be able to plan for when we want to bring a child into the world. We have been to the gynecologist many times but they seem to just give you the pill they happen to be pushing that week and then it’s off with you! We really thought we had something with the copper IUD, but her uterus is apparently too curved and would have to have a child before being able to use the thing.'</blockquote>
And my response:
I just did a bunch of research on this for my girlfriend (I have a background in biology). Here's some info:
• Hormonal Birth Control (HBC) is definitely bad. A lot of women have bad side effects from it, and women who have taken it for at least four cumulative years before their first pregnancy are 1.5 times as likely to develop breast cancer. It is even worse to take HBC as you near menopause. More info on breast cancer: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/content/81/10/1287.full
• Using HBC increases the risk of developing cervical cancer and liver cancer, and decreases the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers, but these cancers are all quite a bit less common than breast cancer, so the increased risk of breast cancer more than outweighs any other cancer risks or benefits. More info here: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/oral-contraceptives
• Progestin only HBC leads to decreased bone mass and osteoporosis. More info here: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118797432/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0
• Women on HBC have their natural (and primal) hormone balance thrown out of whack. Groketta was definitely progesterone dominant, whereas an alarmingly high percentage of modern women are estrogen dominant. Estrogen dominance leads to:
1) Increased body fat and decreased lean muscle mass
2) Increased depression and PMS style mood swings
3) Sexual dysfunction and low libido
4) Fibrosis and cancer of the breast, cervix and uterus
5) Premature aging
6) Recurrent miscarriages
Wow. Just typing that list is a bummer... Here's more info on hormonal balance: http://www.life-enthusiast.com/index.../Wong/Estrogen and: http://www.johnleemd.com/store/hormone_bal_rewards.html
So, with all the clearly negative effects of HBC, what are the best ways to achieve birth control? Clearly sterilization is extremely effective, but thats only if you're done having kids. The reversible forms of birth control available are: hormonal, fertility awareness, barrier, spermicidal, and IUD.
Hormonal is extremely effective if used properly, but we already covered the drawbacks.
Clearly fertility awareness is the most primal, but at the same time in order to achieve effectiveness rates equal to HBC, you have to abstain from sex (or use a barrier method) for basically half of the month. Personally I'm not sure its really worth all the effort - you could just use a barrier method for the whole month...
Speaking of barrier methods - they are quite effective if used properly, but many people have sensitivities to latex, and polyurethane and lambskin are both very expensive. There is also a whole ton of evidence that people can't force themselves to consistently and properly use barrier methods, so I don't think they really have the same effectiveness as HBC or IUDs.
Spermicides are often combined with barrier methods, but many people are sensitive to nonoxynol-9 (the spermicide), and there are preliminary indications that it can lead to increased risk of cervical/uterine cancer. Plus, spermicides alone have in the range of a 25% failure rate - doesn't seem worth the side effects, in my opinion.
This finally brings us to IUDs. They are the number 1 form of birth control in the world (very popular in China), and they are super-effective. More effective even than sterilization...
There are IUDs that have hormones in them (and have the same problems as HBC), and there are IUDs that are copper based. The copper kills sperm and helps alter the conditions in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Some women can experience copper buildup in the body leading to some negative side effects, but as long as a women gets sufficient zinc her body should be able to process and excrete the excess copper.
Many women, especially nulliparous (ie. haven't yet had a kid) have bad side effects with t-frame (copper or hormonal) IUDs. They are often too large and can cause extreme cramping, or worse perforation of the uterine wall, or sometimes even escaping into the abdominal cavity, necessitating emergency surgery to find and remove the IUD.
There are other types of IUDs that are not rigid framed ones, however in the US the only two approved IUDs are the T-frame progesterone and T-frame copper. In Canada (and Europe, and maybe elsewhere), you can get a copper based IUD that is just a string of copper beads with no rigid frame (called the GyneFix). The string is stitched through and tied to the upper wall of the uterus (its basically just like getting an ear piercing and wearing a bead ear ring, but inside the uterus...). The fact that it is frameless eliminates basically all the side effects of framed copper IUDs for almost all women, and its especially great for nulliparous women. If I were a girl, I would plan a trip to Vancouver and get myself a gynefix...
As for how primal they are - well, I don't think Groketta stuck anything up into her uterus, but, Groketta probably did have a few piercings, as many modern hunter gatherers are known to do. And, furthermore, copper is something that our bodies have been dealing with forever, as opposed to various synthetic chemicals and fake hormones...
So, to sum up - I personally think IUDs are best, but if you like barriers or want to try fertility awareness and don't mind that they are less effective than IUDs, then they would also both be better options than hormonal methods.